From episode six’s title, “The Fugitive Kind,” we have a good idea that Pinkerton detective turned (wrongfully) convicted murderer Siringo is not going to end up at the gallows. But his legal troubles get him out of Lizzie’s hair long enough for her to turn her attentions to other matters, like sabotaging her sister’s wedding.
We open, once again, in a courtroom, but this time it’s the bad-boy detective’s neck on the line, and this time, the judgment doesn’t go in the defendant’s favor. For Siringo, the worst part of the affair (other than losing Isabel, whose abusive husband sobs over his loss on the stand) has gotta be the sight of his arch nemesis, smartly clad as ever in a feather-bedecked hat, lying through her teeth and getting away yet again with murder. “You’re a sick animal that should have been drowned at birth,” he hisses when she stops by the jail to gloat after his death sentence is handed down.
Clearly, this clash of dirty-deed doers is far from over. But the perpetual gloom of The Lizzie Borden Chronicles lifts, kinda, as Emma and Leslie discuss their impending nuptials. Fun fact: upstanding Officer Trotwood hails from gritty South Boston, and hints at a pack of brothers who’ve chosen lives on the other side of the law. (One suspects, after all that transpires in this episode, we’ll be seeing these other Trotwoods in the coming weeks.) “We can create the life we want,” he assures Emma, but she’s still not OK with leaving Lizzie alone. For one thing, she feels guilty as hell for bringing a loose cannon like Siringo into Fall River. “My wish to clear your name brought catastrophe on everyone,” she tells Lizzie, not inaccurately.
Of course, Lizzie is capable of creating her own catastrophes. We know she’s up to no good whenever she leaves the opulence of Maplecroft to visit the original Borden home, which stands empty save a few key items stashed in the attic. Including the tiny coffin containing the evidence of Emma’s not-so-innocent past. After a tense encounter with a clearly rattled Skipjack — “I want to be done with you for good,” he says, handing her the glass photo plate of Spencer Cavanaugh’s corpse portrait; “I’ve forgotten you already,” she smirks — Lizzie pays Leslie a visit at the police station with a request of her own. Could he please, please go into the spooky house on Second Street, where Lizzie would never, ever dream of returning, and find a super-special strand of pearls stashed in one of Emma’s trunks in the attic? (Spoiler alert: it’s the trunk with the baby skeleton in it.)
But the plan backfires. “I told him everything,” a sobbing Emma tells Lizzie. “And he forgives me. None of it matters.” What does matter is that Emma is finally (FINALLY!!!!) starting to see Lizzie’s true nature, though li’l sis uses some mighty convincing puppy-dog eyes to deny everything. Leslie is more blunt, assuring her that the wedding is very much still on, “despite what you tried to do,” and if Lizzie interferes with their relationship again, “There will be hell to pay.” Oh no you didn’t, Lizzie thinks. Out loud, she says, “I can afford that price ... can you?”
She can also afford the price of one last Skipjack assignment — and it’s a hefty one to lure him back into her employ. Enough stacks of bills are proffered, however, and he agrees to help her “save my family,” which is Lizzie-speak for “kill a cop.” The deed is done, messily — to her annoyance; this is, after all, a woman who takes pride in her Heathers-esque ability to stage murder scenes as suicides. “Killing a policeman is big news on both sides of the law,” Marshall Hilliard tells her. “Someone will talk.”
(That someone won’t be Skipjack, though ... Lizzie sees to that. As we learned in an earlier episode, “She’s nothing if not thorough.”)
After losing her beloved (and after that nasty business with the magically reappearing baby skeleton), Emma is nearly catatonic. Lizzie’s attempts to comfort her, though she’s the cause of all Emma’s grief in the first place, might be the first time we see her being genuine. (It will probably be the last, though a few scenes later she does have an almost touching moment at her mother’s grave ... before casually admitting she’s caused 27 deaths !!!!!! ?????) And it’s all for naught, because the next morning, Emma packs up and hits the road: “I’m done with death. I’m done with Fall River. And I’m done with you.” She gets as far as the train station before her conviction begins to waver. Was it the sisters’ mother sending a message they should stick together from beyond the grave? Will Lizzie stick to her graveside promise not to off anyone else? In the latter case, at least, not bloody likely.
Meanwhile, Marshall Hilliard has second-guessed his decision to play Lizzie-busting buddy cops with Siringo, now that the latter is a convicted killer. Also, there’s the fact that Siringo snarls “Give me a gun and let me kill her, because you’re too much of a chickenshit!” at him, and Hilliard isn’t fond of being undermined, or being called chicken. In the ensuing scuffle, Siringo manages to grab handcuff keys, which he adds to his stash of jailbreak tools. He bides his time until the carriage taking him to the gallows is en route, before engineering an escape backed by yet another one of this show’s anachronistic alt-country ditties on the soundtrack. (This one explains we’re watching “the fugitive kind” in action. You don’t say?)
The newly freed man could go anywhere, blend in, and start a new life — he’s a master of disguise, after all — but he heads straight to Maplecroft with one thing on his mind: sweet revenge. But it’s Lizzie’s name in the title of this show, and while he does take her by surprise and nearly strangles her to death, he seems to have forgotten that there’s another Borden in town. A sister with a rather incredible ability to forgive. A sister, as it turns out, who’s just as handy with an axe.